Senior exit project should be required

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

For seniors whose last May at Manhattan High has come and is diminishing quickly, this is the last chance to put the finishing touches on all they have worked towards in the past four years. Whether this be heading into Regionals with their teams, putting on their last performance, composing their last piece or publishing their last edition of the newspaper, this is it. The culmination of the blood, sweat and tears of their high school careers and they are being recognized for it in one final effort. Or so we thought.

It is the agreement of The Mentor editorial board that all seniors should be required to to have an “exit project” — a project that students would work towards for the duration of their high school careers that involves turning their passions into a tangible achievement that could be mentioned on a college or job application.

Many students at MHS put their all into one or two extracurricular activities in their high school careers. Thus, those seniors are in fact putting together the pinnacle of their high school careers this May or may have already if they were heavily involved with winter or autumn sports. However, there are a fair number of students who bounce around from elective to elective, not committing to anything, not taking advantage of all MHS has to offer. This hurts them down the road because they don’t know where their passions and talents lie, which makes them less likely to make successful choices in their career paths.

In high school, there are no real consequences to finding what’s for you. If a class or activity does not suit you as well as you thought it would you can move on to the next thing. In a career or college setting figuring this out could be much more damaging. If students were told when they walked into the door freshman year that they needed to take what they figured out about themselves during middle school and turn it into something by the time they graduate, they’re much more likely to find their niche and stick with it. It also gives students who do give high school their all a chance to be recognized for the work they do.

The project could be extra curricular or academic. This could mean being the captain of your sports team or holding another leadership role, creating an exceptional debate or forensics presentation, working on a piece of art whether visual or performing.

This is not a completely original idea. Schools around Manhattan High have adopted similar programs with positive results. Rock Creek has a particularly prominent program that requires a research paper and portfolio of high school accomplishments and a presentation among other things. While this proposal is not as extreme as the Rock Creek guidelines, the idea is still the same.

According to the Rock Creek school website the goal of the project is, “To provide… students with an opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have gained and the maturity they have achieved during their high school careers. The project gives students a chance to make their high school experiences meaningful and useful.”

If the project was started in freshman year — or even if student just had a good idea of what students wanted to do with high school by the end of their freshman year — they could work with their advisors as well as teachers and coaches to achieve this goal, making better use of time in Advisory and other classes. One of Advisory’s main focuses is career and college readiness. this project would help students more than taking yet another interest quiz.

If done right, the program would not impede students social or academic lives, but help students build on their goals. Given four years it should help guide students high-school paths, not provide an added burden to take care of three months before graduation.

An assignment like this would stop high school from fizzling out like it does for many seniors and give students an achievement to not only put on their resume, but learn something from to better prepare themselves for their future.